"Traditional desserts such as cookies or pie are still the most popular," Technomic analyst Sara Gillis told BakeryandSnacks.com. "But options such as fruit are becoming more common, as consumers see them as a way to indulge while avoiding sugar." Out of 1,500 individuals interrogated across the US for the 'Dessert Consumer Trend Report', 37 per cent said they prefer a sweet but healthy dessert, such as fruit or yoghurt, after a meal. In terms of region, these items are particularly popular in the Northeast, preferred by 46 per cent of consumers. In other areas of the US, sweet but healthy foods are picked by 38 per cent of consumers in the South, 34 per cent in the West and 33 per cent of the Midwest. However, a sugary taste is apparently not necessary when it comes to what consumers view as desserts, with 12 per cent counting savoury items such as cheese in this category. "Although cheese contains fat, many people think it is a healthy dessert choice because it isn't sweet," Gillis said. This opinion is particularly prevalent in the Northeast, where 17 per cent of consumers choose a savoury option, falling to nine per cent in the South, and ten per cent in both the West and Midwest regions. Traditional desserts are still popular, but consumers often "mix genres" to avoid excessive calories and fat, for example ordering one cookie along with a black coffee. Another popular ruse is sharing a dessert between two people, Gillis said. "The sharing strategy is particularly popular with women, who are often more calorie conscious, compared to men who usually want to keep the whole dish to themselves," she explained. According to market researchers Mintel, the dessert market is currently worth just under $23bn in the US alone. Cream cakes currently account for the largest percentage of sales with 30 per cent market share. Sponge puddings are the second largest category, with an 11 per cent share, and trifle the third with nine per cent. Alongside the growth of desserts has been a corresponding rise in the custard sector. This small market has seen sales growth of 22 per cent over the 2004 - 2006 period, as the dessert accompaniment grows in popularity, Mintel said.